By Boxing Bob Newman at ringside
Once again, a raucous crowd at the UVI Sports & Fitness Center in beautiful St. Thomas USVI enjoyed a scintillating evening of boxing as 340 Promotions presented Boxing In Paradise IV. Keeping true to form, the card was filled with both local talent, namely the Jackson brothers John and Julius, progeny of local legend Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, and Jackson nephew Samuel Rogers. Adding spice to the mix was some international flavor from Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and mainland A. In the main event, Omri Lowther (13-1, 9 KOs) stopped Juan Carlos Batista (18-2, 12 KOs) to seize Batista’s WBA Fedecaribe lightweight title.
Photos: Boxing Bob Newman
Click the photo to go to the next photo
Defending champ Batista, from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was coming back to the ring after a fourteen month layoff and his only career loss, an upset six round decision at the hands of Wilson Alcorro. Were it not for two point deductions against Alcorro, Batista would’ve kept his unbeaten record intact with a draw. Lowther had been more active of late and it showed throughout the bout. After a feel-em-out first two rounds, Lowther dropped Batista twice in the third, and again in the fourth and it looked for all purposes to be over. Seconds after the bell rang to start the fifth, Batista seemed rejuvenated and rocked a complacent Lowther with his first punch. The Dominican fans in the crowd cheered their man on and Batista responded by stunning Lowther again. That would be it though for Batista’s flash of glory.
In the sixth, Batista hit the deck again, under the ropes and onto the apron. Saved by the bell, it seemed only a matter of time to this writer before he was either knocked out or quit in some fashion. Batista gave it one last stand in the seventh, but had nothing left as his legs betrayed him all over the ring. A look of resignation drawn on his face, Batista made it mercifully through the round and stayed on his stool at the start of the eighth. Referee Smoger signaled the surrender and Lowther climbed the ropes in the neutral corner, acknowledging the cheers of the appreciative crowd. The win give Lowther a 19-1, 9 KOs record and the WBA Fedecaribe lightweight belt. Batista has now lost two straight, dropping to 18-2, 12 KOs.
Lowther told Fightnews after the bout, “This is most definitely the biggest win of my career. He was tough. I couldn’t believe he kept getting up from all those knockdowns. I got a little careless in the fifth wen he caught me a couple times, but I listened to my corner and went to the body and it paid off. I want a North American belt next and a world belt after that. I give myself only a C+ in this fight. I can do way better than this. You’ll me even better next time!”
Julius Jackson looked to add to his new found power against Sarasota’s Luis Hodge at super middleweight. Hodge proved cagier than expected though, as Jackson had a tough time finding the mark with his shots. When he did land flush, Hodge took it and then threw his own, at times catching the “Fighting Chef” with his own wild punches. After four tough rounds, all three judges scored it the same: 40-36, all for Julius Jackson who moves to 4-0, 2 KOs, while Hodge slides to 5-9-1, 3KOs.
Costa Rica’s Hanna Gabriel and Ft. Lauderdale’s Yvonne Reis thrilled the crowd in a Super welterweight scrap. Gabriel showed more superior skill, speed, footwork and overall ring generalship than her ineffectively aggressive foe. Although, Reis had her moments through awkwardly landed haymakers. In the end, it was all Gabriel as the scores were 59-55 and 60-54 twice, all for the now 8-0-1, 4 KOs Gabriel. Reis slips to 7-14.
Opening the show was Jackson family member Samuel Rogers looking to gain his first knockout against Adam Ortiz. His hope came true as he pummeled a hapless Ortiz around the ring, prompting referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. to stop matters at 1:45 of round two while Ortiz was still on his feet, but floundering helplessly. Rogers moves to 4-0, 1 KO while Ortiz slips to 2-6, 1KO.
Next up were fellow debutantes Otoniel Ortiz of St. Croix, USVI and Iran Agosto of San Juan Puerto Rico in a lightweight four rounder. A seemingly disinterested Agosto inexplicably quit in the middle of the first round. After starting out as the aggressor, Agosto shook his head to the negative momentarily, then seemed to fight on for a few moments more. After receiving a jab from Ortiz, Agosto spit out his mouth piece and turned his back. Referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. was forced to stop the action at 1:36 of the opening round. It was later determined that Agosto may have a broken rib. Ortiz is 1-0, 1KO, while Agosto starts out at 0-1.
Super welterweight John Jackson made it a perfect four-for-four against debutante Jonathan Cordero from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Four fights, four wins, four knockouts, as Jackson buried a left hook deep into the ribcage of debuting Jonathan Cordero, dropping for the painful count as referee Steve Smoger waved it off at 1:54 of the opening session. Jackson keeps perfect at 4-0, 4 KOs.
Young Dominican knockout artist Javier Fortuna looked to keep his ledger perfect against the experienced but oft defeated Carlos Diaz in a scheduled four at super feather. Coming in a 5-0, 5 KOs, it turned out that the ring-wise Diaz had more than Fortuna expected, frustrating and bum rushing Fortuna and swapping punch for punch in a thrilling affair. It looked as though things wouldn’t last long as both bombers went at it to the wild satisfaction of the crowd, but Diaz’ savvy proved worthy as Fortuna couldn’t find the punch to put his foe away. In the third, Fortuna suffered a cut over his left eye via an accidental clash of heads as ruled by referee Steve Smoger. Fortuna went for broke in the final round, trying to keep his K.O. record intact, but it was not to be. For the first time in his young career, he heard the final bell and awaited the decision. Scores were as follows: 40-36 twice and 39-37, all for the still undefeated Fortuna who improves to 6-0, 5 KOs, while Diaz slips to 10-21-3, 7 KOs.